Given that the global weight-loss industry is worth tens of billions of dollars, it's no surprise that everyone wants a piece of that pie. In January, the marketer Bronson Partners LLC was served up a nearly $2 million penalty after the FTC took it to court for false advertising of Chinese Diet Tea and the Bio-Slim diet patch.
Consumers were told that drinking a spot of the green tea after each meal ($24.95 for a month's supply) would help them lose as much as 6 lb. per week, and wearing the patch 24 hours a day for at least three months was supposed to make that "repulsive, excess ugly fatty tissue" disappear at a "spectacular rate" (also $24.95 for a month's supply).
The FTC first filed its complaint against the company and its officer as part of the "Big Fat Lie" law enforcement sweep in 2004.
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If a product trumpets benefits that seem too good to be true — “Lose weight by eating pizza!” — it probably means they are.
Armed with the tagline “Protecting America’s Consumers,” it is the Federal Trade Commission’s job to help ferret out these deceptive marketing claims. FTC employees are assigned to sift through popular magazines in search of bogus ads. They also receive complaints from competitors, consumers and Congress, explains Mary Engle, the FTC’s director for advertising practices. Here, TIME’s Healthland looks back at some of the overblown product promises that the government scotched this year.